On the second of June this year (2015), Geek Syndicate were invited down to South Wales to attend a press morning on location of the filming of this year’s Doctor Who. It was with excitement and anxiety that I set off before the crack of dawn to get to the location with plenty of time. During the course of the morning, we sat down to a round table discussion with the Twelfth Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi.
It was great seeing the actor in person and he exudes presence. What came across to me throughout the thirty minute session was a man with a great sense of humour who has a true sense of joy in his job. This is coupled with an understanding of the fans and a desire to spread some happiness where he can.
Since this session took place during the filming of the Zygon story, it was here that the chat started. Capaldi was positive about being able to film with the classic foe and about the crew creating the show in its earlier incarnation:
Yeah! They’re great, yes, they’re fantastic! I had a little part in a film called Dangerous Liaisons and the costume designer was James Acheson who had created the Zygons. He worked on Doctor Who before he went on to great success and acclaim in the movies. And all I wanted to do was talk about Zygons. He was fascinating because he had also done Tom Baker’s scarf and all that stuff. He created those things out of his head and with the limited resources that they had available to them. I think it’s a great testament to his talent.
That happened a lot in those days. You got a lot of people who worked in the BBC and then moved on to movies because the BBC is a great place where people can learn in this very innovative environment how best to deploy their creative skills.
I was keen to find out whether there were any other classic monsters that the show’s star would like to encounter during his tenure:
There’s so many of them. I think the Daemons would be great fun. They were vaguely demonic creatures that were basically Satan. There was Bok the Daemon … he was a gargoyle come to life. They’d be fun.
The Axons I think would be great fun. And I’m always a great fan of the Mondasian Cybermen. Because I think we could re-invent them in a very terrifying way with modern technology. Not like Steven [Moffat] says “with a balaclava”! I like saying “Mondasian Cyberman!”
It’s public record that the Scottish actor was a fan of the show from its outset way back in 1963. The current show has numerous fans working on it which brings an energy to the production:
It’s great that there are so many fans of the show – who love the show – who make it. To be honest, that’s why – and I think it’s always been the way since it’s come back – it’s why it’s been successful. Because despite the fact that it’s become a very successful worldwide brand, it’s essentially made by people who love it.
That means that they will go the extra mile. You know, maybe if you were working on something that you were less connected to you might not put in the extra time or the extra effort to try and make it look better, or sound better, or whatever.
Although a fan himself, it’s never been in an “encyclopaedic knowledge” sort of way … The incumbent Time Lord deferred to David Tennant for that. Of his own fandom, Peter Capaldi has a wonderful insight into being a fan:
I don’t think “fan” is the right word for [my relationship with Doctor Who]. I think [an] individual’s relationship with Doctor Who the programme is their own individual take on it and they get their own things out of it. So obviously, I grew up with it. It is part of my upbringing and it’s very deeply ingrained in me. So I’m not really bothered about “when” and “where” and the “trainspottery” kind of element … I’m not attracted to that component.
Having an understanding for those who do love the show (whatever form that takes), it’s clear from things like his un-planned visits to the Doctor Who Exhibition that there’s a desire to give back to the audience in the actor:
All I’ve got to do is walk into a room of people who love Doctor Who and they sort of smile! If I wasn’t Doctor Who, that wouldn’t happen! So it’s quite easy to surf this tide of affection.
I’ve been very lucky that people don’t pull me up or tell me they hate me or things like that. They keep that to themselves! But that’s a very privileged position for anybody to be in. It’s a sense of wonder often that I’m even in that position. It’s wonderful.
They give you a massive smile when they see you all the time and they shout at you across the street “Doctor Who!” and they wave at you. A little kid came running up and threw her arms round my shoulder … they want so little from you. They just want you to be Doctor Who.
Regarding his visits to the exhibition in Cardiff:
That’s one of the privileges of the job. You go:
“what should I do today? I think I’ll just pop in and make some people’s days”
Much as it might have been delightful for some of them it was even more delightful for me. Also I was conscious at the time that I’m the only person in the world at the moment who can do that. In a few years’ time that’ll be different.
Discussion turned towards the changing nature of the Doctor this series.
The thing about [the character] is that you must never trust Doctor Who. Because his knowledge of the past and the future is comprehensive. And deep. And not quite human. So in his human form, I think he’s decided that since he knows how dark it can get outside that he’s going to have a good time.
But as always with Doctor Who, I think no good time is left unpunished!
And indeed of the costume changes that have been noticed during the shots from filming:
In the Christmas Special I thought “we’re in the Antarctic, so I’d better put a hoodie on or something”. And I quite liked that, it looked quite good, so I thought we’d get some more of those and we started playing around with that …
He’s sort of loosening up a bit more but he still sometimes goes back to his more severe look. And there are some specific trousery things that are happening … for specific reasons!
Comments were made about the actor’s longer hair:
It just grew naturally! My hair is just my hair. I always wanted it to be a bit longer but everyone felt it was important to make a very decisive change. It always happens in the first season of a new Doctor. They make a very decisive change to contrast with what has gone before. And Matt being so friendly and open and affectionate … I think I wanted to be quite different to that.
But my hair? No it just sort of grows. It’s the bane of the makeup man’s life, it drives him crazy! Some people think I’ve gone for the full Jon Pertwee bouffant and it may well do that, but It’s not really planned … I’ve just got grey hair.
Since we were talking about appearances, I waded in with the BIG question – what’s it ike having to sign off likenesses for toys, comics and the like:
Very strange. I kept going “Is the hair right? Is it supposed to be grey? Because I think my hair’s brown.
Before filming started, it seemed to be uncertain if Jenna Coleman would be returning for this series. Asked about Jenna:
Yeah, yeah. Well, she’s grand. She’s great fun. We have a wonderful time. She’s brilliant. I think she’s very brilliant. She and I are very simpatico and we work in a very similar way. We have a good laugh but then, of course, she terrifies me because we have a good laugh and then she’s brilliant.
I think she’s such a good actress. She’s able to be hugely emotional, hugely clever and creative but without the whole palaver going on. We don’t like a lot of palaver. We don’t have time for much palaver. You know it’s a show that – as you may have seen this morning – there’s a lot to do in very little time so we have to really get on with it. I just think she’s brilliant. She has such great charm and elegance and fun. And I love that she’s from Blackpool. One of my favourite places.
Doctor Who should go to Blackpool. I think we should take her to Blackpool.
And the character of Clara this year?
What she does a lot this season is she helps the Doctor relate more effectively with Human beings. Because he sort of doesn’t [relate]. He can’t be arsed to give them the time of day. So she helps him. She has little strategies to help him be better.
My thoughts turned next to the return of a character who has become something of a fan favourite:
Great! Fantastic. I think she’s brilliant, Ingrid’s amazing and it’s a wonderful character. So audacious. What a brilliant idea to create a Doctor Who fan girl … and with her inhaler and all that. She’s brilliant. She’s so clever, so funny and great.
I think we’re going to see there’s a lot of people who could come into the TARDIS quite easily.
With Osgood and Kate Stewart, I reflected that it’s good that there seems to be a new “UNIT family” developing:
It is. It’s lovely having them all. It’s great. We even had “five rounds rapid” the other day!
With the return of UNIT to television this year, and the recent announcement that Big Finish Productions are producing a series with Ingrid Oliver’s Osgood and Kate Stewart, I wanted to know if Peter would consider starring in such audio plays once his tenure was over.
“Future, former Doctor Who” … I don’t know. There’s a whole world out there. Armando Iannucci said to me: “There’s a whole world out there … that’s your future. The Galaxy Quest life. So I’m very lucky to have that available to me. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Which may be sooner rather than later.
So that’s a Maybe then?
I’d like to take a moment to thank Peter Capaldi for his time and also the team from the BBC who invited me down and arranged the morning.
GS Blogger: WedgeDoc